The Ball State Cardinals took flight in Ypsilanti on Tuesday night as they grounded the Eastern Michigan Eagles 88-80 in a huge MAC West tilt. Ball State (13-7, 4-3 MAC) had a hot offensive night as six players score in double figures on the night, led by Franko House’s monster night of 17 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three blocks. Ray Lee led all scorers with 24 points for EMU (12-8, 4-3 MAC), but the team also had two starters go 0-fer from the field.
The Cards took control of the game early in the first half as they went on an 8-0 run, enabled by a pair of layups by Tahjai Teague, putting them up 12-6 with 12:23 remaining in the half. The advantage subsequently shrunk with the Eagles cutting the deficit to just one point after a couple of Ty Toney free throws, but BSU responded with threes from Ryan Weber and Tayler Persons to push the lead out to 27-18. EMU managed to cut the deficit to three points a couple of times before the intermission, but the Cardinal attack refused to let up as the team took a 38-30 lead into the break.
Eastern Michigan threatened with a potential comeback at the midway point of the second half as it cut the Ball State advantage to 59-56 at the 10:03 mark after a Willie Magnum IV trey and a Tim Bond dunk off of a feed by Magnum. However, an 11-0 run by the Cards put the Eagles behind the eight-ball as BSU took a 70-56 advantage with 6:49 remaining in regulation with Weber accounted for five of those points. EMU was unable get the stops it needed the rest of the way as the Cardinals coasted their way to a road victory.
Boasting an efficient offense on the night, Ball State shot 47.5% from the floor coupled with 17 assists and dominated the glass with a 42-34 rebounding advantage. With the result, both teams are now tied for the second best record in the MAC and find themselves three games back of the frontrunning Akron Zips. Both Ball State and EMU should be major players in the league going down the stretch, and this game could be crucial for seeding in the MAC Tournament.
The teams return to action on Saturday as the Cardinals host the Western Michigan Broncos at 1 p.m. while the Eagles have to hit the road to do battle with another set of birds in the Miami RedHawks at 3:30 p.m.